They are the hottest things in sports recovery right now. Made by brands such as TheraGun, Hyperice and TimTam, they are certainly gaining in popularity among professional athletes and celebrities. Whether you are an athlete or an avid sports fan, you’ve probably heard or come across the term “massage gun”. You may have thought to yourself, “what is a massage gun?”. The term itself sounds intimidating, however these devices have become a stable part of the warm-up and recovery repertoire of athletes, therapists, and chiropractors.
Massage guns, or handheld percussion massagers (terms which we will use interchangeably throughout this article), are designed to aid in the increase of blood flow and the myofascial release process. These handheld devices, use vibration and pulsation to apply concentrated pressure deep into your muscle tissue and promote recovery. This form of deep-tissue massage can work out knots and tension out of the muscles, while also enhancing your range of motion and increasing blood flow. Percussion massagers, when used correctly, can help reduce your recovery time and help relieve pain, tension, and soreness.
History of Massage Guns
The first massage gun is believed to have been invented in 2008 by Los Angeles based chiropractor, Jason Werseland. The device was invented after Werseland suffered from a herniated disc and back pain after a motorcycle accident. The device Werseland created came to be known as the TheraGun G1 professional muscle massager and was the flagship product behind the TheraGun company. Since the TheraGun, there have been many other companies to release similar products and the evolution of these devices has continued to improve.
In 2016, TimTam came out with their version of a massage gun, the Power Massager.
In 2017, TheraGun released the second generation of their massage gun, the G2Pro. This device greatly increased the popularity and awareness of the general public as it started to be adopted by several professional athletes. The TheraGun received a lot of attention after Kyrie Irving was seen using it on national TV during a timeout of the 2017 NBA Finals.
In 2018, after four years of development, Hyperice launched the Hypervolt, which was much different looking than any previous version of a massage gun and featured Quiet Glide technology that resulted in a quieter device than anything prior. Also during this year, Hyperice formed a partnership with FoundryIV to be the first to bring massage guns into the ESports world. In late 2018, TheraGun and TimTam announced the launch of the next generation of their flagship products.
In 2019, Tim Tam will release the Power Massager V2.0 and TheraGun will release the G3Pro. Both brands will look to change the massage gun game by adding in new features such as quieter motors. Additionally, TimTam will add heated tips, gps tracking and more!
How Do They Work?
The massage guns, which are powered by removable lithium ion batteries, are equivalent in size to a handheld power tool (think power drill or reciprocating saw). The term “gun” is likely associated with the devices because they are handheld and are operated by a trigger mechanism. Most have a hardened plastic head on one end that pulsates in and out of the device. The head, which is typically a ball shape, moves back and forth at a rate of 2,000-2,6000 percussions per minute at an amplitude of around 16 mm. This pulsation of the massage gun head is what creates the massage and vibration in your muscles, which helps to release the fascia and increase blood flow to the targeted area. All of the devices on the market come with varying heads that can be attached to target different areas. The different heads come in different size balls, wedges, cones, forks and cylinders and are interchangeable.
How Do They Help?
Percussion massagers apply repetitive pressure on the surface of your body, sending pulses of pressure deep into your muscle tissue. The repeated pulsations of pressure mimic the pressure that you would receive from the kneading hands of a professional deep-tissue massage therapist. Deep tissue massage is ideal for recovery after an intense workout because of the deep muscle penetration.
In practice, the rapid pulsations delivered from a massage gun will soften stiff muscle tissue, and you can target extremely sore muscles by working the surrounding tissue. Eventually, softening and soothing the surrounding tissue will have a relaxing, soothing impact on the sore, overworked muscle. Many professional athletes, therapists and chiropracters are using percussion massagers to minimize pain and discomfort for themselves or their patients, but you can buy your own massage gun to achieve the same results at the gym, office, or while recovering at home.
Additionally, the pulsations produce vibrations throughout your muscles which promote the blood flow in the targeted area. Vibration has also been shown to provide additional benefit in the form of increased range of motion and decreased delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
What Are The Benefits?
Outside of the general benefits of massage, there are many specific benefits that relate directly to using a massage gun as part of your warm-up or recovery routine. Deep muscle stimulation has been known to produce the following benefits:
- Release lactic acid
- Accelerate muscle recovery
- Enhance range of motion
- Improve blood circulation
- Ease soft tissue pain
- Stimulate muscle growth
- Improve muscle responsiveness
- Decreased DOMS
Who are Massage Guns for?
The great thing about massage guns is that they can really be used by anyone. Whether you are a very active individual that runs, bikes, lifts, plays sports, etc., or if you travel a lot, sit at a desk or are on your feet for long periods of time, a massage gun could benefit you. Due to their versatility, they allow you to target any muscle on your body and can be used in many different ways. Due to their price point, they are more commonly used by serious athletes or those that often find themselves in discomfort. In addition to athletes and active individuals, many therapists and chiropractors use the devices on their patients as they can often do more work than a therapist in a shorter amount of time. Interestingly enough, the original TheraGun was actually invented by a chiropractor whom himself was looking for relief after herniating a disc in a motorcycle accident.
What are the Top Brands?
The top players in the percussion massager and massage gun market are without a doubt TheraGun, Hyperice and TimTam. All three companies are competing for a share of the market and each has their own line of products outside of their signature handheld massage devices. Below are each of the signature percussion massagers. You can click each product title to learn more about it.
As massage guns continue to gain popularity, we expect to see the price point of these devices drop and hope to see further improvements in later models.
Looking for something else to help relax your entire body?